Henri Nouwen’s wisdom for the day:
To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others. Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division. Jesus says it clearly: “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; … do not condemn; … forgive” (Luke 6:36-37).
In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.
For the shellfish to be prised open to reveal the edible treasure inside, they first had to be thrown into the fire and left for 10 minutes. They were charred on the outside and only looked good to be thrown out. But slicing them open, steam billowed out and the fish inside had cooked to perfection, giving delight to all. Similarly, the beautiful swordfish was expertly sliced with a sharp knife, straight through the heart, in order to reach the good flesh within. The peach, the satsuma, the kaki…all of the juicy flesh within can only be reached by slicing with a sharp knife through the tough, hard skin surrounding it.
Oh that the master Chef would keep going deeper – and that I would have the courage to open, not close from the pain. That requires a faith that the Chef will turn grief into grace, mourning into dancing, tears into streams that water the earth.
Earlier this week, while wrangling with God for a solution to an emotional minefield, a friend got in touch to say ‘don’t worry there’s no rush. just spend time soaking in His presence, for no other reason than because He is worth it’.
This felt like liquid honey being poured straight into my heart from my heavenly Father’s; soothing words of encouragement and reassurance. And yet I spent most of the rest of the week snatching moments here and there. always finding reasons not to actually kneel at the feet of Him who is Worth It All. But today I sat, and came across Jesus curing a boy with a demon in Matthew 17. Why could the disciples not cast out the demon they ask Jesus? ‘Because of your little faith. Truly I tell you.. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain: ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you’. Continue reading
All I know is that I can hardly breathe, and right next to me God offers His lungs in the primal wails of a newborn boy. I am barely standing, and here within reach God will learn to crawl and walk along with me in the clumsy, fumbling stride of a toddler. I wonder how I will survive the day –to- day business of life with the constant stabbing of grief. And here in the flesh God, too, is learning to survive, only to bear the painful piercing of the ultimate grief.
So with my hands on the manger and my knees on the ground, I kneel. I kneel not because I am reverent or because I am righteous, but simply because I can no longer stand. My open wound and staggering loss are all I have to bring to this infant King.
On Thursday morning, I felt weary; my resources had been depleted. As I was driving the kids to school, I was carrying the needs, seeing the lack of resources and having my eyes fixed on the hungry and hurting multitudes. I was still thinking about the story in John 6.
Then, just as I was about to make a left turn into the campus, I became aware of this:
The multiplication is not your job. That is not your responsibility.
I felt the heaviness slide off my shoulders.
Your job is to bring what you have.
Miraculous Multiplication = Not. My. Job?
Phew. For a week there, I’d forgotten that.
I’d forgotten that all I have to do is share my lunch with the crowd.
I chewed on that all day:
– About not having my eyes fixed on the need; but keeping my eyes on Jesus, the miraculous multiplyer.
– Not questioning what I have and whether it is enough, but to bring whatever I have.
I can’t help but ask myself: What if the little boy had said, There’s no way my little lunch could feed a whole crowd. Or what if he didn’t value his offering and withheld it? Instead, he simply trusted it to Jesus’ hands.
It’s so humbling and simple, really–this strategy to feed a whole, hungry multitude. All I have to do is bring my lunch.
– That which sustains me.
– That which nourishes me.
– That which feeds me.
I don’t have to do everything. I just have to see what’s in my hands. To ask: What will feed me? And if someone from my crowd asks for it, to offer it up, so we may all have enough. Feasts are, after all, about eating together; never alone.
Thoughts on Jesus the multiplier
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do a brand-new thing.
It’s bursting out!
Don’t you see it?
There it is!
I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.